Will Monza prove the defining weekend in the title-chasing Briton's season? Jolyon explains the turnaround that takes him ever-closer to the GP2 crown and reveals how his F1 chances are progressing for '15
Friday 12 September 2014 15:37, UK
Racing is full of emotion, and in three days at Monza I’m pretty sure I felt it all!
Friday was going fairly routinely with third in practice and fourth in qualifying, albeit I was frustrated with a big block from Johnny Cecotto on my best lap. Still things weren’t looking too bad for a strong weekend...
But then late on Friday night we had the bombshell. I had been excluded from qualifying for not having the mandatory one-litre of fuel in the car at the end of the session. It was just a mistake on the fuel calculations that meant we were a bit short. We still had enough fuel for a sample and the car wasn’t underweight so there was clearly no performance advantage to be gained, but we didn’t comply with the regulation of having to have one-litre of fuel in to ensure there is enough for fuel sampling.
We had to accept this and realise that we would have no choice but to start from the back and so we put our heads down and worked on a plan to come back through.
The races themselves were great; everyone in the team did a good job all weekend to respond. Coming through the field on Saturday was intense. I had my head down and was pushing flat out for the entire race. With five laps to go I managed to pass Stefano Coletti for eighth which was unbelievably satisfying. That is the result we needed to truly save the weekend because it put me on pole for the sprint race. Crossing the line in eighth I realised the extent of the achievement, but it would only be of use if I managed to convert it into a good result on Sunday.
Sunday was a much more simple drive – but still a crucial one. I nearly lost the lead into Turn One but held on around the outside. From then on I just had to manage the race to complete an amazing turnaround from starting 26th just a day earlier to winning the race on Sunday and significantly extending my championship lead.
There were a lot of talking points around the Monza weekend, one of which was the Parabolica tarmac runoff which has been put in place for this year. When I saw the photos of it before we turned up I really thought it was dreadful to have such a historic corner made a lot easier with a lot more margin for error. Even walking the track it didn’t look great, but in fairness the corner hasn’t changed and actually driving it there wasn’t a big difference between the gravel on the outside or the tarmac, in fact I actually forgot very quickly that there used to be gravel.
Still I’m a fan of the old-school circuits so I would prefer there to be gravel and no tarmac run offs anywhere, but in this instance it didn’t make as big a difference as I was expecting, Stefano Coletti still managed to find the gravel there in practice!
The other big talking point in GP2 was driving standards and those in particular of Sergio Canamasas. He really had a weekend to forget, starting with pulling up to the wrong starting spot on Saturday. How this is possible I have no idea! We sit on the grid for ten minutes before the warm up lap, whilst you’re not exactly focussing on where to park the car at the end of the lap, your bearings are still pretty obvious. Then when you come to the grid, you know if you are on the inside or outside, there are number boards on the right with your number in line with your grid position and then if all else fails, you just move your car into the position that is directly behind the car that is starting two places ahead. It really is very simple and I can’t understand how Canamasas managed to fail at this on Saturday.
Anyway, by Sunday this was the least of his worries as he was black-flagged for causing multiple incidents. Firstly, he cut the Ascari chicane and entered the track at full speed, onto the racing line, unbelievably dangerously. This bunched the field massively and caused a couple of incidents further back. Secondly, he did an inexplicable move on Marciello at Lesmo 1, which reminded me a lot of the move he did on me at Silverstone last year. When someone is clean up your inside you just cannot turn in because of course you will crash into them. This is plain common sense which every driver has normally (and pretty much every fan as well). Sadly for Marciello, Canamasas turned in, effectively ending both of their races as Marciello was forced to retire and Canamasas was given a black flag for causing another incident.
Last year at Silverstone he did a similar thing to me, only he was a lap down! After the race I called him an ******* idiot which earned me a 12,000 Euro fine. Now everyone agrees with me maybe there’s a chance I can have a refund!
Now we have just two weekends left with long breaks in between. Obviously a big part now is to build on the success from this year and to try and move up to F1. I have a management team working on that and from recent developments I’m optimistic of being on the F1 grid next year. With driver announcements starting to come I’m sure the 2015 driver market will unfold quickly now.
Next up for me is Sochi, a new track for everyone so it should be extremely interesting. In the meantime I’ve got to keep focussed on the job in hand and ultimately clinching the GP2 championship.